After learning a lot about the waste of single use plastics working at the Halsey Institute, as mentioned in my previous blog post, I have been very conscious of strategically examining my personal investment in these products. Laundry detergent is one of those plastic products which I continually buy and then throw away, and I have yet to find a reasonable plastic-free alternative. However, I have discovered that I can make an effort to find products which last longer, use organic and sustainable ingredients, and are locally sourced. I have been using Rebel Green laundry detergent and have grown to really love the product. But I wanted to do some further research on its environmental and social impact to verify that it is a good investment, and not a source of greenwashing.
The first step was examining its ingredients list:
Water, Sapindus Mukorossi Fruit Extract (Organic Soap Berries), Saponified Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil (Organic), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder (Organic Aloe Vera), Sodium Chloride (Sea Salt), Sodium Carbonate, Xanthan Gum, Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba (Guar) Gum (Organic), Acacia Senegal Gum (Organic), Sodium Bicarbonate, Glycerin (Organic), Natural Fragrance (Organic)
I found that all of their laundry products are plant-based, USDA-Certified Organic, biodegradable, and free of synthetic fragrances, phosphates, phthalates, parabens, and dyes. I feel comfortable with the sourcing of these materials as well as their impact on my personal health. It is important to consider what we wash our clothes in and the materials with which we cover our bodies in daily. Although its bottle is made of plastic, 25% of the plastic is recycled. The product is highly concentrated and lasts 64 loads, which means I can use the product for about a year or more. It is distributed by Rebel Green LLC, based in Milwaukee, WI. It is made completely in the United States and manufacturers use local suppliers to reduce the environmental impact caused by transportation. A percentage of sales go directly to clean air, clean water, and clean food initiatives; every purchase of Rebel Green provides a healthy snack of fresh fruits and veggies for kids in our communities through their ‘School’s Out Healthy Summer Snack Program’ with Feeding America.
The primary waste left behind in creating this product lies in its recycling post-disposal. Recycling requires a large consumption of energy and resources, but it is still much better than normal waste disposal. However, plastic is an extremely harmful material which does not biodegrade so the best option is to replace it altogether. Some detergents have begun creating cardboard packaging with just a plastic lid. This is the next step required for Rebel Green to reduce their impact at the end of their products functional life. Another, even better option would be to create reusable bottles and refill stations at local groceries.
I assumed that this product was one of the better options at my local grocery and worth spending a couple of extra bucks on. However, I was slightly skeptical that I was simply a victim of greenwashing. After extensive research, I can confidently say that this product has exceeded my expectations by carefully following a mission of being kind to our environment and our bodies. Although some mystery still remains in their production processes, my findings have convinced me to stay a loyal patron of the company and support their community-centric planetary stewardship.